A pilot study of a family focused, psychosocial intervention with war-exposed youth at risk of attack and abduction in north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo

Paul O'Callaghan, Lindsay Branham, Ciaran Shannon, Theresa Betancourt, Martin Dempster, John McMullen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Rural communities in the Haut-Uele Province of northern Democratic Republic of Congo live in constant danger of attack and/or abduction by units of the Lord's Resistance Army operating in the region. This pilot study sought to develop and evaluate a community-participative psychosocial intervention involving life skills and relaxation training and Mobile Cinema screenings with this war-affected population living under current threat. 159 war-affected children and young people (aged 7-18) from the villages of Kiliwa and Li-May in north-eastern DR Congo took part in this study. In total, 22% of participants had been abduction previously while 73% had a family member abducted. Symptoms of post-traumatic stress reactions, internalising problems, conduct problems and pro-social behaviour were assessed by blinded interviewers at pre- and post-intervention and at 3-month follow-up. Participants were randomised (with an accompanying caregiver) to 8 sessions of a group-based, community-participative, psychosocial intervention (n=79) carried out by supervised local, lay facilitators or a wait-list control group (n=80). Average seminar attendance rates were high: 88% for participants and 84% for caregivers. Drop-out was low: 97% of participants were assessed at post-intervention and 88% at 3 month follow-up. At post-test, participants reported significantly fewer symptoms of post-traumatic stress reactions compared to controls (Cohen's d=0.40). At 3 month follow up, large improvements in internalising symptoms and moderate improvements in pro-social scores were reported, with caregivers noting a moderate to large decline in conduct problems among the young people. Trial Registration clinicalTrials.gov, Identifier: NCT01542398.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1197-1207
JournalChild abuse & neglect
Volume38
Issue number7
Early online date15 Mar 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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